Exclusive: Nevada gambling regulator
probes Las Vegas Sands over front gamblers
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[October 26, 2016]
By Joel Schectman and Koh Gui Qing
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Nevada's state
gambling regulator is investigating allegations that Las Vegas Sands
Corp casinos allowed high-stakes Chinese players to bet millions of
dollars in other people's names, according to people directly familiar
with the investigation.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board "has made inquiries related to this
matter and we've responded in a timely and transparent matter, as we
always do," said Ron Reese, a Sands spokesman.
As Las Vegas has sought to draw wealthy Chinese baccarat players, some
casinos have allowed high-stakes players to gamble through frontmen who
would sign the credit paperwork, a Reuters investigation published last
The allegations against the Sands initially surfaced after Clark County
prosecutors brought charges last year against two women accused of
failing to repay millions of dollars in gambling debts at the Las Vegas
Sands' Venetian and Palazzo casinos.
Attorneys for the women, Jeffrey Setness and Kevin Rosenberg, said the
two were actually shills -- local housekeepers recruited with the
cooperation of Sands personnel to take out millions of dollars in credit
in their own names. The women would then sit near the actual players,
allowing them to use the chips and gamble millions of dollars without a
paper trail, the attorneys said.
Previously, a Sands spokesman said the company had no clear evidence
anyone from the company asked the women to take out credit in other
After the defense attorneys raised the counter-allegations, prosecutors
dropped the charges this past spring during preliminary hearings in Las
Vegas Justice Court.
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The Sands Expo and The Palazzo Las Vegas resort is shown in Las
Vegas, Nevada, U.S. August 25, 2016. REUTERS/David Becke
The state's gambling regulator, the Nevada Gaming Control Board, is
investigating those allegations and whether the use of fronts
violates the state's bookkeeping regulations and broad "decency"
requirements, according to a person with knowledge of the
In recent years, state and federal authorities have scrutinized
practices in Las Vegas casinos that allow gamblers to play without
leaving a paper trail.
The Sands, for instance, paid $47 million in 2013 to settle a U.S.
Department of Justice investigation after the discovery that an
alleged Chinese–Mexican drug trafficker lost more than $84 million
at the Venetian, according to a statement of facts the Sands agreed
to as part of its settlement with the DOJ.
(Editing by Ronnie Greene)
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